Coffee inspires creativity—this is merely an overflow of that. A bit of my coffee journey in the form of doodles and sketches.
February 21, 2012

I love the smooth, fruitiness of this coffee – it’s almost like fruit and cream, especially when brewed in a V60. Today I used a Kaffeologie steel filter with a ratio of 28g coffee to 415g water. Bloomed for 30 seconds with 60g of water, then a small, one-inch counter clockwise pour in the center.

I’m glad I stuck with my Tonx subscription – I enjoy the little card with some thoughts from the folks at Tonx, along with the card that explains about the coffee itself. These extras really paint Tonx as a thoughtful, informative coffee roaster who is committed to excellence and education as far as coffee goes.

Looking forward to the next shipment.

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Categories: Coffee

February 19, 2012

Don’t let “espresso” fool you. This honey pot from Kuma is a light to medium roast that puts out some serious honey sweet, milky smooth, and berries and cream notes. Made in a V60 with Kaffeologie steel. 25.5g coffee to 365g water.

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Categories: Coffee

February 19, 2012

I’ll be honest. I was skeptical when I first heard about Relax.

Over the years, I’ve seen about as much coffee culture in the rural, rust-belt town of Mansfield, Ohio as you might expect there to be in a rural, rust-belt town like Mansfield. I spent most of my high school and college years trekking 60 miles south to Columbus in order to indulge in my love for good coffee. I don’t mean to speak poorly of Mansfield, because it’s a great place, but it’s seen it’s fair share of tough economic times.

So, when I was told there was a “great coffee shop” in Mansfield, I brushed it off. I ignored it and chalked it up to a miserable attempt by a local business to play off of a weird mix of small-town charm and a Starbucks sweet-tooth obsessed menu.

After checking out some photos on the Relax facebook page, I started to think otherwise. A couple brief Facebook exchanges with the Relax staff later, I decided it was time for a visit.

Relax is nestled under a balcony in the historic Carousel District of downtown Mansfield. When I got to Relax, owner Paul Kemerling was standing behind the bar, wearing a MadCap shirt, arranging a Hario V60 dripper on a sweet copper pourover stand. I was floored. I immediately fell in love with the shop. I introduced myself, and we got to talking about our stories.

Pourovers at Relax. Thoughtfully brewed coffee.

Relax, It’s Just Coffee was named after a painting Paul purchased a few years back from a local artist, and the shop itself stemmed not only out of his love for quality coffee, but also out of his love for art, community, and creativity:

RELAX, It’s Just Coffee is a genuine neighborhood coffee shop providing an “all access atmosphere” where artists, business leaders, students, and neighbors can come together to work, create, relax, socialize, and unwind.

Our objective is not to just sell coffee (though we are happy to do just that!), but to use the “coffee shop experience” to cultivate a multi-generational community united by its love of local arts and entertainment. With an extraordinary staff, welcoming environment, and high-quality goods, we aim to become an essential part of your communal life.

Paul and his staff brew all of their coffee by the cup, using hand-brewed techniques like the V60 pourover from Hario. If you go there, and don’t have a clue what that means, they are more than happy to explain to you the benefits of brewing coffee by hand. Don’t worry, they’re nice about it! If you want a brief explanation, you can read a guest-post on brewing methods I did here.

During my visit, I had a fantastic cup of Stauf’s Nicaurgua brewed via Pourover, and really enjoyed my chat with Paul. We talked about fundraising, brewing methods, and touched on his vision for what he wants Relax to be. I believe in what he’s doing, and think Relax brings a lot to the city of Mansfield, even beyond great coffee. They play host to concerts, community events, and they proudly decorate their walls (and ceilings) with the creativity of local artists.

I’m looking forward to making Relax a normal stopping place while visiting family up in Mansfield, and I hope to get involved in some of the coffee educationals and classes Paul wants to host in the future.

When we finished talking, my sisters joined me for a short visit. While we were talking, Paul handed me a filter and asked me if I had a pen. Naturally, a doodle had to happen. After I finished the doodle and got up to leave, Paul kindly asked me my shirt size and handed me a t-shirt adorned with the painting the shop was named after.

I had a great visit, and am still in disbelief over what this shop is accomplishing. I’m certainly glad I was wrong about it, and would highly recommend it to anyone. Can’t wait to go back.

Copper pipe pourover stand created by Mike Thompson. On sale here. (photo credit to Mike Thompson)

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Categories: Coffee

February 18, 2012

It’s been about a month since I last had Kuma, and I’ve missed it dearly. Mark Barany must have sold his soul in turn for roasting and sourcing skills, because he has something special going on up in Seattle.

It’s an honor and a privilege for me to be collaborating with Mark on some projects.

The Honey Pot Espresso is a medium to light roast that melts in your mouth. Tons of berries, honey, and clovers pop out at you. I’ve made this in both the AeroPress and the V60 (with Kaffeologie filter) and I like them equally as much. Go get some Kuma today.

Also, make sure to check out the Seattle Cityscape mugs – you can get one for only $10 on Kuma’s web site. It’s really cool to see one of my doodles on a mug. They came out really nice.

Grab one here:

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Categories: Coffee

February 16, 2012

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Categories: Coffee

February 15, 2012

When I opened the bag, it instantly smelled like chocolate teddy grahams in the room. I know that’s not a proper coffee aroma descriptor, but it’s accurate.

Really earthy, dirty, spicy taste to this coffee. A really nice contrast to all the fruity, syrupy coffees I’ve had as of late.

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Categories: Coffee

February 15, 2012

Voting is now live for the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s “Attendee Video Contest.” The contest is centered around the phrase: “Specialty coffee is…”

SCAA challenged anyone who loves coffee to create a video that finishes that sentence, and to do it in their own unique way. The winner gets $500 and gets their video played at the SCAA opening ceremonies in Portland, Oregon at the end of April. It’s a really cool opportunity for me to be involved, especially as I begin to explore diving into the coffee industry. It’s nice to be able to feel connected to it through things like the SCAA.

Since I’ve taken up this project to doodle every day on Draw Coffee, I thought it would be nice to answer the question through a doodle. So, I wrote up my sentence, reeled in a videographer, and got to work.

Check out the video, and vote for it by clicking the button below. The winner will be decided by most votes. So, share this on Facebook, re-tweet it on Twitter, post the link on your blog, whatever. I’d really appreciate your support! Oh, and you can vote once each day. So, if you really don’t have anything better to do, and you find yourself bored, vote again.

A huge thanks to Kristin Van Valkenburg for shooting and editing – she drew up the storyboard, planned the shoot, and did all the editing – she did great work and this video came out exactly how I envisioned it. Also thanks to the band “the Lighthouse and the Whaler” for letting me use their song “Under Mountain, Underground,” and to artist John Donnelly for letting me use his amazing studio space in downtown Mount Vernon, OH.

Here’s my sentence:

“Specialty coffee is captivating, because it inspires creativity and collaboration, cultivates community, and carries constantly changing characteristics.”

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Categories: Coffee

February 14, 2012

Really getting the syphon method down – grinding coarser, making sure the temperature doesn’t continually rise (keeping it below 202F), and removing all heat at the right time. Really rewarding when everything works together.

Highly recommend the Honduras Santa Barbara from Batdorf. It has a rugged, smoky, fruity aroma to it. Very smooth, with a nice tart kick to it. The bag describes it as having lemon, cream, and custard notes. I’d say, in my infantile knowledge of picking out notes, that they nailed it.

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Categories: Coffee

February 13, 2012

A couple weeks back, Joyce from Baratza (@BaratzaTalk) emailed me a link to a contest put on by the magazine and website “GOOD.” The contest asks for doodle submissions that display what it means to be an active citizen.

I loved the idea of the contest, and it seemed right up my ally, but I figured I had some time and kind of tucked it away and forgot about it. Well today, Brian W. Jones, a designer and creator at “Welcome” sent me a tweet with the link to the contest, which reminded me I had better get busy if I wanted to meet the February 15th deadline.

So today, my doodle features coffee, but it’s not as much about coffee as usual. For me, the idea behind being an active citizen reaches far beyond getting involved in politics or attending a city council meeting. Those things are good, for sure, but I think being an active citizen starts at a basic human level, and I think it happens naturally and organically when you strip some layers off of the broader question.

In the doodle, I emphasized this in the following ways:

  • Learn: Understand your surroundings, your community, the people around you. Get to the root.
  • Re-Use: Be a good steward. Order a Keep Cup and quit using paper ones. Recycle. No more K-Cups.
  • Plant: Plant a tree. Plant a seed somewhere. Grow and cultivate ideas within the community.
  • Bike: Be active, literally. Enjoy your surroundings.
  • Participate: Do some local shopping. Support the community around you.
  • Join: Find local groups or organizations that have a mission and passion that align with your own.
  • Raise: whether it’s dollars or new leaders, grow resources that support your community.

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Categories: Coffee

February 12, 2012

Batdorf’s Kenya Brewed up in a SoftBrew this morning.

This coffee has a nice grapefruit kick to it, which I think gives it a juicy or punchy feel to it. Its countered nicely with sweet fruit notes.

The thing I love most about the SoftBrew is the filter. The micromesh filter allows you to grind a bit finer than you would with a French press, which, in my naive opinion, allows for a more diverse cup of coffee. Plus, it’s removable, so you don’t have to decant- you can leave your coffee right in the porcelain pot.

The SoftBrew looks great sitting on any table. Beautiful design.

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Categories: Coffee